In this second part of our mini-treatise on cleansing, we will explain cleansing to you so clearly and thoroughly, you will feel cleaner inside just for having read it. Hey, it’s possible.
We will explore some of the the fun, fascinating, and little known details of how this process works inside of you from a scientific perspective. We will also tell you why your smart, kind doctor can’t really direct you in the cleansing department, unless she or he is trained in integrative medicine, and perhaps why the whole thing can sound kooky from their point of view (there are some kooky cleanses out there). We will talk about the connection between your metabolism and cleansing, and straighten out some common misconceptions.
We will then talk about when to cleanse, nutrients needed for detox, and how to vet a good cleanse (read here: not kooky). We’ll touch on the fasting debate and cleansing pitfalls to avoid. While we will pay more attention to what we customarily think of as the biological or physical aspects of cleansing, and how it will shape the biochemistry of your body, this, in turn, will shape how you think and feel. So, please bear this in mind as we move along… Afterall, as we pointed out in Part 1, true cleansing is a love offering, not a punishment.
Psst… no matter how pure you are, you’re still dirty (you still have metabolic waste)
As we discussed in part 1, man-made toxins are everywhere and their devastating effects on our bodies are starting to become a part of our cultural discourse. But environmental toxins are only part of the battle. It’s also important to remember that our body is constantly making its own waste, down to the cellular level. Therefore, our body must be able to effectively neutralize and remove these metabolic by-products in addition to the toxins from the environment.
These metabolic by-products are a crucial and natural part of your biochemical symphony. Problems arise when your channels, or metabolic pathways, get overwhelmed, clogged and these by-products and man made toxins accumulate, causing you to become toxic. This is why fecal impaction (not being able to poop at all for a long time) can cause sepsis (the presence of harmful bacteria and their toxins). It’s also why liver and kidney failure actually kills you.
How does it feel to come clean?
We wish we could zap you with an instant sensory sample of how good it feels to effectively cleanse your body and renew your metabolism by removing the toxins and opening up your channels. It is so amazing that words really don’t do it justice, but in an attempt to convey what it’s like we would say things like:
- You experience a new found energy from deep within you.
- You feel a sort of glowing sensation.
- Your pain levels subside.
- You feel more optimistic and happy.
- You are less reactive when crappy things happen.
- If you need to lose weight, you do.
- You feel lighter in every sense of the word.
- Your body says, “YAAAAAY! THANK YOU SO MUCH! THIS IS WHAT I ALSWAYS WANTED! YOU’RE THE BEST!”
There, that should suffice. We hope we have piqued your interest!
Trick question… When should we cleanse?
We hope your answer is “always,” because as soon as this vital process stops you will move on to your final Savasana (corpse pose for you non-yogis). Now we don’t mean you need to be on a cleanse program all the time, but we do want to stress the importance of living a lifestyle that supports your body’s detoxification pathways. Doing a periodic deep cleansing protocol can help us remove stubborn toxins. Cleanse protocols that open up our metabolic pathways will support our innate cleansing ability. So, in order to adequately cleanse every moment of every day, your lifestyle must support those bodily functions that allow this. Let’s take a look at some of them.
How exactly does cleansing work, anyway?
To understand how cleansing works, we must understand how the body neutralizes and gets rid of toxins. We have organs dedicated to this, as well as metabolic pathway in each and every single cell! We obviously can’t cover them all hear because this isn’t a biochemistry, anatomy or physiology course (although Skya would love to talk your ear off about this stuff).
Your two kidneys maintain your blood chemistry balance by filtering out excess metabolic by-products and water soluble toxins from your blood stream and excreting them out with your extra water, becoming urine. This explains why staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day is crucial. Most people say they drink plenty of water, but most people actually don’t.
Your liver might be considered the brain of your metabolism. Metabolism is the sum total of all chemical reactions that happen in your body. Your liver has 500 separate functions. Meaning its like a chemistry set that can do 500 different chemical reactions! Only a few examples include digestion and management of sugars, vitamin and mineral storage, fatty acid metabolism, hormone metabolism and detoxification. The liver is one of the most amazing organs and is not a filter, like the kidneys, but rather a miraculous chemistry set–a transformer, more than meets the eye. Sorry, couldn’t help that.
Your liver has two main pathways for dealing with fat soluble toxins (see diagram above for more details). Phase 1 detoxification is the pathway that chemically breaks down toxic molecules into smaller, intermediary, toxins using nutrients like B-vitamins, vitamin A, D and flavonoid antioxidants. These come from fruits and vegetables as well as animal products and sunshine. Phase 2 detoxification does a bunch of chemistry, like sulfation and methylation, that neutralizes the intermediary toxins, rendering them non-toxic. This requires methyl groups, sulfur, choline and amino acids (aka organic, pastured animal foods like eggs, meat, seafood, bone broth and gelatin) as well as vitamin C and magnesium that we can get from plants. Most people (especially middle-aged woman on low-fat diets) are no longer eating enough of these traditional, high quality fatty animal foods that are rich sources of these nutrients required for the second phase of liver detoxification. Factory farm meats don’t do the trick.
We know it seems sexy to do a fruit cleanse, or better yet a juice cleanse! And while there may be a few benefits to this type of cleanse, it is ultimately robbing your liver of the second stage of detoxification, the part where the toxins are actually neutralized and eliminated fully. Without this, you may be worse off. This is because toxins will still be circulating in you, causing you to herx, or experience painful, or at least very uncomfortable, detoxification symptoms, as discussed in Part 1. You can be vegetarian and detoxify, but you have to be smart about it.
Beyond the liver and kidneys… It’s a whole body affair!
However, cleansing does not just happen in your liver and kidneys, although targeting the liver and kidneys is crucial.
The organs involved include the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, lymphatics, gut and microbiome. Also consider that every cell in your body has organelles and is constantly making waste and doing chemistry to clean it up and protect you from it. Every aspect of your biochemistry is involved in this process. Even stressful thoughts will change how our cells behave and divert energy from detox and repair to fight the enemies in our head.
Therefore, what really needs to be addressed when talking about cleansing is your metabolism. For optimal rejuvenation, we need to cleanse and reset the metabolism! As we mentioned before, by metabolism we mean every single interconnected chemical reaction, cell and microbe in your body, and the web of organ systems they make up. So essentially, the totality of how your body works on all levels, as one harmonious unit. Your health. How good you feel. How happy you are.
Unfortunately, most people are living in a reality where their metabolism is temporarily clogged up in some form or another, interfered with by toxins or misfiring some of it’s cylinders. This is evident by organ and tissue malfunctions, such as leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs when the intestinal lining is irritated and compromised, and it often causes an autoimmune situation, when undigested proteins enter the blood stream. This immune confusion then leads to most of the blockbuster diseases people are dealing with, ones like heart disease, Chron’s, Hashimotos, arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, blah blah, to name a few.
Instead of waiting until you are suffering from the end result of this process (a diagnosable disease) it is wise to address the underlying issues before you get really sick. Think of it this way. Your body sends off alarms in the form of pain, fatigue, infertility, sexual dysfunction, yucky moods, and, frankly, not looking so hot. You can either wake up and redirect your path, or keep hitting snooze and go down like the Titanic, except much much slower and with more pain and suffering. Sounds fun, eh?
Wait, that doesn’t sound fun at all. So, how can you start to heed the wake up calls, especially when you feel so run down that hitting snooze feels like all you can do?
Let’s talk about gut, baby, let’s talk about you and me.
Another factor in how your body gets rid of toxins is healthy gut motility, which is the peristaltic wave like movement of your intestines. Peristalsis is required for the proper elimination of wastes from your colon, meaning it’s how we poop. The fiber found in plants (especially vegetables) actually binds the toxins and metabolic wastes from your liver, stimulates peristalsis and allows for well formed stools that require very little effort to squeeze out. Any snag in this process, and you are re-toxifying all day, every day. It even has a name… autointoxication!
A healthy flowing gut is directly linked to your lymphatic system, which is the system of waterways that runs throughout your body. The immune cells travel through and are cleansed by the lymphatics. When a white blood cell gobbles up a bad guy, such as a pathogen, toxin or cancer cell, it is processed by the lymph nodes. If this system were to completely shut down you would die in a matter of minutes! That’s how important it is.
The lymphatic system’s huge presence in your gut makes sense because this is a major gateway into your blood stream. It has a name, too, GALT (gut associated lymph tissue). The job of your intestinal lining and GALT is to let the good guys in and keep the bad guys out. If the gut lining is compromised (leaky gut), which can happen quite easily with today’s diet, then your immune system mounts a response. This manifests as autoimmune diseases, inflammation and allergies. A leaky gut directly affects the functionality of your lymphatic system. So healing the gut lining is extremely important for everyday detoxification.
If you want to heal your gut lining, or keep it healthy, you must have a functional microbiome. Our microbiome is the sum total of all microbes that inhabit our body and without which we could not live (or do we inhabit them?). We are symbiotes together with them. Our microbiome is now considered the foundation of our immune system. A gazillion of these critters, our gut microflora, live attached to the lining of our gut, especially the large intestine (or colon). In fact, they outnumber our own cells by an order of magnitude (10 to 1), providing 150 times the genetic information of our own genome, which helps us break down certain food toxins that we aren’t able to, among many other metabolic functions where our genetics fall short. In this way they are a vital part of our detoxification system and are now classified as one of our organs.
If our gut lining isn’t healthy, the good guys can’t stick or thrive and chaos ensues. Eating foods that heal the gut while feeding the good guys, as well as eliminating foods that damage the gut while feeding the bad guys is an important strategy for an effective cleanse.
If cleansing can heal, why don’t doctors recommend them?
The practice of cleansing and purifying toxins goes back thousands of years and bridges many cultures. Traditional medical systems seek to heal the body and may also have a spiritual or religious dimension, seeking to purify the body as a means of divine receptivity (for example, being able to change your brain state and raise your consciousness in meditation). However, most of these cleansing rituals were created before germ theory even existed (which, by the way, is being turned on its head via microbiome medicine), and so are understandably seen as outdated and superstitious by modern biomedical practitioners. In fact, most mainstream medical school, nursing and nutrition programs actively teach their students that traditonal medicine is quackery and woo woo. They are told that there are no studies to support… (fill in the blank with any natural medicine claim). To be fair, some traditional approaches and remedies as well as modern fads really don’t work and can even be dangerous.
Meanwhile… Researchers have very recently revealed intricate details about how the human body works, including the many organ systems and metabolic pathways involved in the continual neutralization and removal of toxins from our bodies. There are montains of growing research on how we can use foods, herbs and lifestyle changes to support these processes very effectively without harmful side effects.
The fact that the AMA and big pharma aren’t promoting cleansing as a valid way to heal is no longer much ado about safety and actual science as much as it is a factor of business logic. It’s a very practical matter, actually. Since you can’t patent nature, you can’t patent natural methods, so their profit potential is extremely limited—too much so to keep a multi-trillion dollar industry afloat.
Big Pharma controls the AMA through advertising and other financial support. The AMA sets legal guidlines and revokes medical licenses. Doctors and other medical professionals are not the enemy here. They are between a rock and a hard place. If your doctors are not trained in integrative medicine, they don’t know it can work and would literally be risking their career by administering unapproved protocols.
Therefore, a vast realm of highly effective, scientifically backed and safe treatment options are inherently excluded. The American public is left to seek out alternatives on their own and out of pocket.
What should I look out for when choosing a cleanse that works for me?
In order to support all of that detoxification intelligence in your body, we would suggest rallying some self-love and choosing a cleanse protocol that can:
- reboot your metabolism
- help open your channels
- nourish both phase 1 and 2 detoxification
- reduce possible food allergies
- feed the good microbes in your gut
- heal your gut lining
- help you poop
Most importantly, a well designed cleanse gives you a tangible feeling of what it’s like to have a balanced metabolism that provides abundant energy without stimulants and sugar (which actually burn you out over time). Experiencing rapid transformation through gentle, effective cleansing will help get you on the road to making healthier choices throughout your life.
This will also dramatically help digestive function, pain levels, and even allergies as the gut begins to heal and the immune reaction begins to subside. This unleashes vast amounts of immune power, that was sequestered in self-attack, to do it’s important jobs of cleaning out your channels, killing rogue cancer cells, gobbling up toxins and wastes, and repairing the normal wear and tear from living on a planet with gravity, oxygen and daily doses of star radiation.
Pitfalls to avoid when choosing a cleanse
We probably don’t have to say this by now, but let us connect the dots for you. The master cleanse, which involves days to weeks on end of nothing but maple syrup lemonade with cayenne, well, how can we say it delicately? Oh, to heck with it. The master cleanse sucks, in our opinion. Drinking lemonade sweetened with sugary tree sap and spiced with pepper will not address anything but phase 1 liver detox and maybe give you some digestive rest, but it loads you up on sugar and starves you, which actually destabilizes your blood sugar and angers the metabolism gods.
The same really goes for most conventional sugary juice cleanse. Sure, fresh fruit and vegetable juice is more nutritious than lemonade, but it still has major limitations from a physiological perspective if you do it too long, say more than a day or two, again for digestive rest (see detox chart above and notice all the missing detox nutrients). If you do a juice cleanse, we love fresh green juice, but would definitely add some fat, protein and even fiber to make it activate more of your detox systems.
What about eating nothing but grapefruit, or apples, or melon for days or weeks? Some people like to just eat fruit because it’s “cleansing” and binging on sweet things is momentarily fun. While fruit is great because it does aid in part of your body’s detox systems, it’s a lot of sugar and certainly doesn’t address the whole picture (see chart again). Considering most people have blood sugar imbalances and sugar craving pathogens (parasites, bacteria, yeasts), this may not be the wisest choice.
Gallbladder flushes are popular and can be very effective for that purpose, but the apple juice can be too much sugar for most people, so you could modify the protocol and just take malic acid instead if you’re having gallbladder issues.
The moral of this story? Understand your body and make sure your chosen cleanse is well thought out.
To fast or not to fast?
Slow down before fasting and make sure you are a good candidate. Most popular detoxes rely on different forms of fasting, extreme elimination from the diet and monoeating (consuming one thing for many days). Fasting can be a powerful tool for resting and restoring the digestive system and clearing out some of the channels. This is especially helpful for people with gut issues like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel or other chronic diseases. Fasting is also used in religions for many reasons, but not because starvation brings you closer to God (wait what?). Make sure that if you are fasting that it’s not a crash starvation diet to lose weight. That is called something else: anorexia.
While there are many studies showing benefits from strategic fasting for already healthy people, it can make things like adrenal fatique, metabolic syndrome and other degenerative disease worse. Fasting does not support your liver’s detoxification pathways, which requires nutrients to do its chemistry. It can help clear out your channels in some ways because we are often clogged up from excess.
This can be extremely transformative, but it doesn’t really support the long-term balance and functioning of all of your detoxification systems. Fasting on green juice is better, but it only activates the phase 1 pathways because phase 2 requires certain nutrients that you won’t be getting during a fast unless you make the modifications suggested in the previous section (see diagram again if you’re still geting the picture).
Can you help me cleanse in a gentle, effective and loving way?
Here’s the part where we want to shamelessly let you know how excited we are about the cleanse we offer, how well thought out it is (we are standing on the shoulders of some brilliant folks here), how amazingly effective it is, and the results our clients have gotten (not to mention what we have experienced ourselves). Yet, we don’t want to be annoying and salesy (too late?). We genuinely want you to experience this, which is why we priced it at only $50. Once you have it, it’s yours to keep forever and ever, to do every year or even a few times a year, such as with each season change.
Everything we share here at Spoonful of Paradise aims to support this beautifully complex ability you have to come back into alignment with your original blueprint. Our approach is multifaceted and encompasses much more than just diet. In our experience, it boils down to removing the thought patterns that cause emotional stress, removing your toxic burden and balancing your metabolism by nourishing your body with what it wants to feel good (delicious food, movement, joy, love).
We have purposefully designed our 4-7 Day Metabolic Reset Cleanse to cover all of the dietary aspects of your body’s innate detoxification systems, giving you the visceral experience of self-healing in action. We see this as a powerful way to support your path toward a level of health and vitality that you only dreamed was possible.
If you love what you experience and want to take it to deeper levels, we address self-healing from all sides in our Closing Your Nurture Gap 12 week courses. These courses are life changing. People are healing themselves who have been stuck for a long time and are even reversing supposedly incurable diseases like autoimmune conditions, mental illness, diabetes, heart disease, cysts, infertility and more. We don’t do it. You do! We just teach you how to get to the root of what is eating you, and become your own health detective to boot.
If you are interested in doing our cleanse, click here to learn more about it. If you choose to give yourself this gift we look forward to hearing about your results!
If you are on Oahu and can afford to splurge, our head chef Nicole can prepare your cleanse food and drinks for you!